Jul 19, 2008

Concert Review: BILLY JOEL "THE LAST PLAY AT SHEA" - Friday 7/18/08

This was an epic three and a half hour marathon concert of Biblical proportions. The last Concert ever to be held at Shea Stadium was definitely one for the ages. One of the best of the hundreds of concerts I ever attended. Even Ghosts from the past came to Shea Stadium to Shea Goodbye!

Lets begin with the crowd & the mood. Being a Shea Stadium veteran I know my way around to Shea without hitting much traffic and parked on Northern Blvd. right off 126th St. It's amazing how know one knows these are legal spaces.(The lots were charging $30). The crowd was of all ages from teens to people in their sixties. It was a sell out of about 65,000, dancing, singing, and shaking the rafters at Shea. It was a great enthusiastic crowd that would ecstatic more than once through out the night. And by the end of the night were completely exhausted from excitement and blown away.

Billy Joel hit the stage after 8:30 on a hot humid New York night. A Beatles fan could not help thinking of the magic nights in 1965 & 1966 when the Beatles played Shea on a similar hot humid night. The ghosts of the Beatles were definitely visible tonight. As rumors began circulating all week that Paul or Ringo may show up. Billy Joel was actually wearing the same Wells Fargo Badge that Ringo Starr had worn playing drums at Shea in 1965. Yes there was magic in the air.

Billy was absolutely fantastic as he rocked through the night alternating
ng between classic rockers & slow ones. He wore all black with pants & a black sport jacket which made us wonder how he didn't pass out from the heat. He kept wiping his head with wet towels even wearing them on his head to keep kool for a couple of songs, looking like the emperor from Star Wars. His voice was great but began to show some wear at the end of the show.The stage was massive as Joel played his heart out on a rotating Baby Grand piano through the night. He also played guitar and sang standing up on the mic for a few tunes.
The video screens were huge, I am estimating about 40 feet high on both sides of the stage. They were designed in the shape of the New York skyline and besides showing Billy & the band, flashed New York themed scenes including some Met's shots. I was very impressed with sound as it was on a Pink Floydian level,massive speakers belting out a crisp clear sound from where I was sitting about two o'clock from the stage in the field box seats.

He had a full band, with horn section, and the orchestra from the Broadway musical " Moving Out". Which of course is based on the music of Billy Joel.

A familiar face to myself and Beatles fans was Brooklyn native Mark Riveria. Mark has played on 5 Ringo Starr tours, played with John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, and of course has been with Billy Joel since the early eighties and many of those classic horn parts are his. He had the center spotlight on all the Joel classics with sax parts, as well as singing backing vocals. He sported a Met's Jersey by the end of the night!

If Billy Joel's set list wasn't enough (see below) here's who showed up as Billy's special guests to Say Good Bye to Shea!

During "New York State of Mind" Tony Bennett came out and sang to the delight of the crowd with Joel. Everyone to their feet singing along and cheering on New York and giving Bennett a huge ovation.

Country singer Garth Brooks came out wearing a Met's jersey with the number one -Brooks on the back. He & Billy did a great rendition of "Shameless".

During "Goodnight Saigon" Billy had members of the U.S. Military,FDNY & NYPD on stage singing the "We will all go down together" parts. This was very touching and brought the crowd to its feet with a standing ovation & chants of U.S.A. !! U.S.A.!!

Next up Billy announced another native New Yorker -Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who came out in his classic leopard shirt & hanging scarves singing "Walk this Way" to a surprised crowd beginning to go insane.

Billy then introduced " A man who played Shea Stadium long before I ever di
d" Roger Daltrey of the Who! Daltrey played "My Generation" to a now absolutely ecstatic crowd. Roger in round Lennon like sunglasses gave a smashing, stuttering performance of the Who classic, with Billy Joel playing guitar and smashing it to bits, ala the Who at the end of the song!

Then it happened as if all this wasn't enough, all the rumors turned out to be true! Billy Joel brought out "Sir Paul McCartney" to absolute bedlam. I don't know if I have ever seen a crowd so happy & blown away. After all the hype and all the great singers that had graced the stage through out the night, Paul's appearance was the climax. As if the Rock & Roll Holy One himself had appeared on stage. The ghosts of the Beatles at Shea in 1965 had come alive.
"I played here many years ago & had alot of fun, we are gonna have alot of fun playing here tonight too"-Paul McCartney
To see Paul McCartney play "I Saw Her Standing There" at Shea Stadium was one of the best concert moments I have ever had. Imagine 65,000 people singing, dancing, jumping up & down smiling. In total amazement, looking at each other in shock as Macca sang "She was just 17, You know what I mean......" in Shea Stadium. It was of Biblical proportions !!! You knew the spirits of John & George were smiling down on us too.
If that wasn't enough Billy then rocked out an incredible set of his classics in between all his guests which led to two incredible encores of "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" &"Only the Good Die Young". Those singalongs and the ones to "She's Always a Woman" , "Captain Jack" & "My Life" are as passionate as any in music. A worn out ecstatic crowd chanted "Lets go Billy!!" as an exhausted Joel came stumbling to the stage and played his classic "Piano Man" on piano with harmonica attached to him. It was the biggest barroom singalong ever as 65,000 people helped carry Billy through the vocals. This was another great moment of the night and one of the best in rock and roll.

Just as you thought it was over, Billy stepped aside and and let Paul McCartney sing the final song at Shea Stadium. As Billy & Macca hugged & kissed each other, Paul got on piano and did "Let It Be". How fitting. People were again blown away to epic proportions. Some smiled, some laughed, most sang, some held each other, waved their arms in the air and some even had tears in their eyes. It was an amazing touching moment.

I was at Shea Stadium for Game #6 of the 1986 World Series,nothing will ever beat that. But this concert was probably my second best experience at Shea Stadium ever. And I have been to 3 World Series games, an NL pennant clincher, an Eastern title clincher, many playoff games, hundreds of regular season games & 4 concerts in that Stadium.

A DVD movie with all the special guests and Billy's classic performances is scheduled to be released called "Last Play at Shea". It will also cover stories of all the concerts at Shea from the Beatles to Billy Joel. I can't wait...............

Billy Joel Set List: The Last Concert at Shea Stadium 7/18/08

Star Spangled Banner
Miami 2017
Angry Young Man
The Entertainer
My Life
Summer, Highland Falls

Ballad of Billy The Kid
New York State of Mind (with Tony Bennett)
Moving Out
Rootbeer Rag
Goodnight Saigon (with U.S. Military)
Don't Ask Me Why
Keeping the Faith
Down Easter Alexa
Innocent Man
Shameless (with Garth Brooks)
She's Always A Woman
Captain Jack
River of Dreams
A Hard Days Night
Walk this Way (Steven Tyler)
We Didn't Start the Fire
It's Still Rock & Roll To Me
My Generation (Roger Daltrey)
You May Be Right

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
Only the Good Die Young
I Saw Her Standing There (Paul McCartney)
Piano Man
Let It Be (Paul McCartney)

"This stadium opened up to play baseball in the year 1964 and that was the first year I joined up in a band. They're gonna tear this house down but I want to thank you for letting me keep doing this job. It's the best job."-Billy Joel

Jul 15, 2008


When the Rolling Stones rolled their Steel Wheels Tour into New York City it was for six sellout nights at Shea Stadium in October 1989. It was their first Tour since 1981. After years of inactivity and Mick & Keith feuding publicly, it seemed the Stones were doomed. But they made nice after the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony and wrote about 50 songs in a month. Made their first new album in 8 years and released "Steel Wheels" to good reviews. It was a real good album sporting new hits like "Mixed Emotions"(which went to #5 on the U.S. charts) and "A Rock in Hard Place".The album went double platinum in the U.S.

All six nights sold out immediately as they went on sale,averaging 65,000 people per night. I can remember waiting on a Ticketmaster line for hours as new shows kept getting added. My Mezzanine seat in Section 28 cost $30 at the time. I can remember the Mezzanine section shaking up & down some thing I only felt at the 1986 Mets season clincher game before that. By far it was one of the best shows I ever saw.

The opening act was a new band at the time called"Living Color" fresh with their
hit "Cult of Personality". (What ever happened to them?) The Stones did a two hour set of classics and some new songs from the Steel Wheels album. There were two 50 foot inflatable women blown up to life on both sides of the massive stage set up during "Honky Tonk Woman". The stage was a massive erection of steel ramps for Mick to dance around on and large video screens so the fans could see the show,even from the depths of the upper decks.

The Stones received $70 million up front guarantee for the 36 city tour and probably made alot more as the Steel Wheels rolled on. Parts of the tour were filmed for the first ever Rock show shown at imax movie theaters called 'Rolling Stones at the Max".

If Opening night wasn't enough of an event, Eric Clapton showed up & played guitar on a version of "Little Red Rooster". This would be the last tour bassist Bill Wyman would play on as he would retire in the early nineties. I believe it was the first time the Stones played the Psychedelic "2000 Light Years From Home" too.

Steel Wheels Tour Set List:
Intro: Continental Drift
Start Me Up
Sad Sad Sad
Undercover Of The Night
m Shuffle
Tumbling Dice
Miss You
Ruby Tuesday
Play With Fire
Dead Flowers
Mixed Emotions
Honky Tonk Women
Rock And A Hard Place
Midnight Rambler
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Before They Make Me Run
Paint It Black
2000 Light Years From Home
Sympathy For The Devil
Gimme Shelter
It's Only Rock'n Roll
Brown Sugar
(I Can't Get No)Satisfaction
Jumping' Jack Flash (Encore)

The WHO "The First Farewell Tour" 1982

The Who sold out 2 nights at Shea Stadium in two hours. It was their first return to a New York Concert stage since the 1979 "Who Are You Tour" right after Keith Moons death. The band had kind of decided to call it quits after this tour but still were not really sure. At the time it seemed this would be the end, the Kenny Jones on drums years just wasn't working out anymore. Pete Townshed hated playing the stadium shows but because of their huge popularity, they forged ahead anyway. Their latest album at the time was "It's Hard" which I think is still a great album today,as I did in high school back then. I still have the 1982 tour shirt from the show that certainly hasn't fit in years.

This concert was the first time that seats were put on the infield for a concert at Shea Stadium. Adding another 9,000 seats. Huge video screens were the new thing and the Who had the state of the art version for its time. They were sporting their new early eighties New Wave hairstyles, as Roger Daltrey had cut all his long curly locks off.

The opening act was the one of the hottest bands around at the time, The Clash. Many
Clash fans were there just to see them. They had their new album at the time out "Combat Rock", and they were chosen by the Who because they were thought of as the future of rock.It was the beginning of their end as the Clash soon broke up, and the Who continues to roll on every few years. Personally I never thought the clash were anything beyond "London Calling' & "Lost In the Supermarket", to me just highly over rated. I also remember it raining for the concerts too.

The WHO 1982 Shea Stadium Set List:
I Can't Explain
Sister Disco
The Quiet One
It's Hard
Eminence Front
Behind B
lue Eyes
Baba' O Riley
I'm the One
The Punk & the Godfather
Cry If You Want
Who Are You
Pinball Wizard
See Me Feel Me
Wont Get Fooled Again
Young Man Blues
Naked Eye
I Saw Her Standing There
Summertime Blues
Twist & Shout

Bruce Springsteen & The E. Street Band -"The Rising Tour" 2003

Bruce was highly motivated after the 911 tragedies and put together the first E-Street band album since "Born in the U.S.A." in 1985. It was a huge success and a massive two part world tour of 120 shows followed. The tour began in New Jersey in August 2002 and ended at Shea Stadium for three nights in October of 2003. An estimated 200 million people saw the shows around the world. Bruce did an incredible 10 nights at Giants Stadium alone grossing $ 39 million dollars with an estimated 600,000 people in attendance. The final three nights of the tour at Shea did have a few empty seats, and most people in attendance had already seen a few shows of the Tour. The tour featured a new E-Street band member Soosie Tyrell on violin & backing vocals. The band intros were done during a marathon version of "Mary's Place' and the classic"Badlands" always brought the crowd to their feet, and was a mainstay of all songs in the varying set lists.

Bruce concerts were always known for the pre concert tailgate parties,especially at Giants Stadium. Well Shea discouraged any tailgating and announced it on the news, the radio and on their web site. any partying was done very low key as the NYPD patrolled the parking lots, bummer man. Bob Dylan made an appearance with Bruce on the final night of the tour at Shea and the two did "Highway 61 Revisited".

I have included the set list from Friday October 3rd, 2003 the show I attended:
Candy's Room
The Rising
Lonesome Day
The Ties That Bind
Brilliant Disguise
Empty Sky
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Another Thin Line
Souls of t
he Departed
Because the Night
Prove It All Night
Mary's Place
New York City Serenade
Into the Fire(encore)
Janey Don't You Lose Heart
Pink Cadillac
Born to Run
Seven Nights to Rock
My City of Ruins
Born in the U.S.A.
Dancing in the Dark
Twist and Shout

The POLICE "Synchronicity Tour" 1983
Sting said "I'd like to thank the Beatles for letting us use their Stadium" during the Police's 1983 concert. At the time the Police were at the height of their popularity and the hottest ticket in town. They squeezed an estimated 70,000 into Shea that night as the fans watched three video screens project images of The Police modifying renditions of all their hits. Sting was very full of himself and hammed it up, while Stewart & Andy jammed on. It was a great performance and the Police legend grew even bigger after this show.

The opening act was local girl Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The former Runaway was hot off her 1981/1982 album and hit "I Love Rock & Roll" and currently supporting her latest album called album. I always liked Joan Jett and she always puts on good live show. The other opening act that were so unknown at the time they didn't get any billing was R.E.M. sorry I have no use for these guys at all.

Police "Synchronicity Tour" Set List 1983
Can't Stand Losing You
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Demolition Man

Don't Stand So Close To Me
Every Breath You Take
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Hole In My Life
Invisible Sun
King Of Pain
Message In A Bottle
Murder By Numbers
Next To You
O My God
One World
So Lonely
Spirits In The Material World
Synchronicity I
Synchronicity II
Tea In The Sahara
Voices Inside My Head
Walking In Your Footsteps
Walking On The Moon
Wrapped Around Your Finger

Jul 11, 2008

Concert Review- JOE COCKER /STEVE MILLER BAND at Radio City Music Hall

It was a double classic rock bill at Radio City Music Hall. The best place to see a concert! The crowd was real good, alot of dancing on & off and alot of warm cheers for the big songs. I got my tickets on "Tickets Now" day of the show, they were e-mailed to me and were printable at home. I even saved $20 off the ticket price. Center stage Orchestra Row A (about 20th row). I was more eager to see Joe Cocker, as I have gotten in to him more over the past few years.

Joe Cocker is a Veteran Rocker with the gritty voice and spastic stage performances. Joe earned major respect with his performance at the 1969 Woodstock concert; his performance of the Beatles “A Little Help from My Friends” with The Grease band is legendary. Through the years he has been known for his hits of covers of other artist’s songs besides his own. He has had 3 top 10 U.S. Hits 4 top 11 hits and a number one hit.
The 1969 Mad Dogs & Englishman Tour was famous for its all night parties and massive drug & alcohol use. It was one big party that led Cocker to battles with drug & alcohol problems through his life, but he cleaned up his act and made a comeback in the eighties.
Joe has released over 20 albums through his career and many Greatest Hits & Anthology compilations. He has appeared on Ed Sullivan, the Tom Jones show, Woodstock 1969 & 1994, and my favorite; an appearance on Saturday Night Live where he was joined by John Belushi doing a parody of Cocker during “Feeling Alright”. (The Joe Cocker bit was Belushi’s favorite part to play.)
He currently lives on “Mad Dog Ranch” in Colorado with his wife Pam.

Joe cocker at Woodstock 1969
Joe was fantastic. You either like him or you don't. His act is the same, a very distinct screaming, gravely voiced vocalist who looks like he may not make it through the next line at times.

Spit flying out of his teeth, and horrifying grimaces, that make it seem like he is in agony. But somehow he is sensational. His voice is full of power & energy as he takes songs to a new level. He has been doing it for 40 years and keeps rolling along covering songs like no one else can.

Dressed in all black, rolled up sleeves, playing air guitar & air piano with those classic spastic moves. He still belts out screams that sound as if they are full of pain & yet excitement. He made the crowd roar with the classic scream in "With A Little Help' just like he did at Woodstock.

His band had a female bassist, 1 piano player & keyboardist, drummer, sax player and two female singers in short short skirts who could sing. Bringing the blues of Cockers records to life.

The set rolled along early on with his classic 'Feeling Alright" & "The Letter". He surprised me with another Beatles cover -"Come Together", done in the same style as the Beatles. He brought it down a notch and sang an absolutely beautiful version of "You Are So Beautiful". Featuring just Cocker at center stage and a piano backing him. It was a great live concert moment.Brought the crowd to their feet for a standing O!!

The set just took off during the last segments-"Leave Your Hat On" -"Unchain My Heart" and then he blew us away with "A Little Help From My Friends", and the encores of "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" & "Cry Me A River".

Joe was great and stole the show. I can't wait to see him headlining on his own doing a longer set.

Joe Cocker's Set List
Feeling Alright
The Letter
When the Night Comes
The Lift is Up Where We Belong
You Are So Beautiful
Summer in the City
Come Together'
Hymn for My Soul
You Can Leave Your Hat On
Unchain My Heart
With A Little Help From My Friends

She Came In Through the Bathroom Window
Cry Me A River
The Steve Miller band was formed out of the San Francisco Haight Ashbury scene of the late 1960s. Boz Scaggs was a member of The Steve Miller Band in its early years. Miller had success with “Space Cowboy” in 1969 and the song “My Dark Hour” featured Paul McCartney on bass under the name Paul Ramon. Miller had huge success in the mid seventies with two consecutive block buster albums. “Fly Like An Eagle” in 1976 which included major hits “Fly Like An Eagle” “Take the Money & Run” and a number one “ Rock N Me”. The 1977 release “Book of Dreams” included “Jet Airliner’ ”Jungle Love” & “Swing town”. In 1982 “Abracadabra “became Steve’s third number one song.
“Steve Miller Bands Greatest Hits 1974-1978” has sold over 13 million copies.

As for Steve Miller he came out with a bang opening with "Swing Town" , he played a great opening set but then lost me along the way. He had a full band on stage including a new member Sonny Charles, who just dances around & sings. His longest time band member (32 years) is his harmonica player whose name I don't know. I never saw so many harmonica leads & duals with a guitar in my life.

Steve switched guitars for every song, he told a great New York story about when he was on Hulabaloo in 1965 and got paid $125. He went to Manny's guitar shop on Broadway and spent it on a guitar that he still has & played last night.

He then paid tribute to Bo Didley and gave the mic to the newest band member Sonny Charles who sang the next 3 songs. He lost me here, it went on too long. The Steve came back & played the intro to "Fly Like an Eagle" going right into the song. This is my fav Steve Miller song so I was excited. The song went into a jam and then he introduced his keyboard player and he came out and sang a rap in the middle of "Fly Like an Eagle" Yes a rap to "Fly like an Eagle"!! What the hell is this??? I booed it and it ruined the whole song for me. He did a couple more old tunes, not popular ones and closed out with a few hits that made the crowd happy.

"Rock N Me" "The Joker" and then"Jet Airliner' probably the best song of the night.

Steve Miller Band Set List
Swing Town
Living in the USA
Space Cowboy
Abra Cadabra
Nobody Loves You
Mercury Blues
Hey Bo Diddley
Pretty Thing
Boom Bopa Boom
Fly Like an Eagle
Wild Mountain Honey
Dance Dance Dance
Rock N Me
The Joker
Jet Airliner
Take The Money & Run
Jungle Love